February 12, 2013- Secrets Secrets Secrets.. and Coalition Negotiations. Marc Schulman

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Israel Update
A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

February 12, 2013- Secrets Secrets Secrets.. and Coalition Negotiations.

Today's news from Israel has had a surreal quality about it. Starting this afternoon, reports surfaced of an emergency meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and the major news editors in the country. Netanyahu asked that a news story that was broken abroad not be reported in this country-- since the story bordered between a security concern and/or a national embarrassment. Of course, it took no longer than one minute of checking Twitter to find out the topic of the story. It related to a mysterious Australian Jew, who had been here for 10 years. The unnamed man was imprisoned without a trail and then committed suicide- at least that is what was being reported abroad.

The Israeli news had a very interesting way of un-covering the story. Today was one of the opening Knesset sessions. A number of Knesset members, including Zahava Galon from Meretz and Ahmed Tibi from the TA'AL party, asked the outgoing Justice Minister if the story of an Australian dying in an Israeli prison was true. Galon demanded to know how anyone was held without trial. The correspondents on Israeli TV added that these Members of Knesset were using their prerogative of parliamentary immunity, (which is absolute in the area of speech) to ask questions that they (the journalist) could not raise. Immediately following the airing of the sound bites from today's Knesset session, they ran a segment about the various Jews who were accused of spying against the state- going all the way back to the War of Independence. Draw your own conclusions.

Of course all of this against the background of the story of the North Korean nuclear test. But more on that tomorrow.

Coalition negotiations are going nowhere. Netanyahu is intent on including the Haredim, and both Lapid and Bennet are not budging in accepting Netanyahu’s plan for a Haredi service (that everyone knows will accomplish nothing.) Lapid an Bennet have been working closely together. Netanyahu has not been able to break the embrace between the two. For the first time, there has been talk among observers that Netanyahu might fail to put together a coalition. Netanyahu will be making a fatal mistake if he thinks he can go back to the voters if he fails to create a coalition, because of his need to maintain his connection with the Haredim. If there are new elections again because Bennet and Lapid did not cave, they will be the big winners.

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